The importance of proper release technique

Catch and release fishing is becoming a more popular practice these days as anglers are increasingly concerned about the sustainability of fisheries. Catching fish that are too small to eat and not returning them to the water can have a major impact on these populations, so it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the best practices for ensuring their survival once you release them:

  • Don't try to remove the hook if it is too deep: Sometimes a fish will take a hook so deep that you can't remove it without performing surgery. It's better to simply cut the line as close as possible to the hook and let the fish go, as they'll either expel it themselves or the hook will eventually corrode.
  • Get your hands wet when you handle a fish: Fish have a layer of slime on their scales and skin that protects them from infections and parasites. If you touch them with dry hands, you risk removing this and exposing them to these hazards underwater.
  • Stick to a five second rule: Fish should never be out of water for more than five seconds at a time. Once you pull them out of the lake or ocean, place them in a bucket of water as soon as possible.
  • Try to use a net as much as possible: The less that you have to handle the fish, the more likely they will survive once they are released. A rubber net can be used to lift them out of the water.

If you're heading out to your favorite fishing spot soon, make sure that your boat has all the latest marine electronics and technology onboard so that you have an easier time finding and catching fish. You can find the best equipment by shopping at ePal!

What should I look for in a loudhailer?

A loudhailer can be one of the most useful boat accessories that you have onboard your vessel. Yet many mariners have no idea what these devices are or why they would want one on their boat. A loudhailer is exactly what it sounds like: a public address (PA) system that connects to your boat's communication module so that you can talk to other vessels that are nearby.

This instrument is also typically equipped with a siren that will broadcast internationally-recognized distress signals in the event that you require assistance while at sea.

If you're not sure what to look for in a loudhailer and what distinguishes one unit from another, here are a few tips:

  • More wattage means more power. A loudhailer with a power rating of 100 watts will be louder and broadcast farther than one that is rated at 30 watts.
  • Some loudhailers are designed to work with both your horn and your radio, while others are not.
  • There are different siren signals to indicate different types of distress and warnings. For example, the Furuno LH-300 Loudhailer comes with six preset sirens that are used in different situations, such as when your boat is being towed or has run aground due to reduced visibility. The more sirens that your unit is equipped with, the more flexibility that you'll have in communicating with other vessels.

To find out more about loudhailer equipment and other boat parts, we invite you to check out the ePal online store today. Our selection of marine equipment is unparalleled in the industry, and you won't find better prices anywhere else. We also offer free ground shipping on all orders to the lower 48 states, so you can rest assured you're getting the best deal for the best equipment.

3 tips for troubleshooting your marine transducer

Your transducer is one of the most important boat accessories that you have on your vessel, so it's critical to make sure that it's working properly. When it stops giving you accurate depth readings or the water column, then it's probably broken and needs to be either repaired or replaced.

Having said that, you may be wondering if there's a way to troubleshoot your transducer to determine whether the problem is with the instrument or if perhaps it's simply receiving interference from another sonar device. Here are a few tips for figuring out the source of the problem:

  • Check for any external damage on the transducer itself: There are a number of ways that this instrument can become damaged, either because you struck an underwater object (if you have an in-hull transducer that protrudes from the bottom of the boat) or perhaps because barnacles have attached to it. Any cracks in the surface of the device might let in water, which can cause it to malfunction.
  • Inspect the electrical connections: Your transducer is connected to a series of wires that feed into your instrument panel. Make sure they haven't become corroded or detached from the system.

Marine transducers typically last many years, so with the exception of physical damage and wiring problems, most customers don't experience broken units all that frequently. If you're looking to replace your device with a more advanced model that provides more detailed information about what's going on underneath your boat, you should check out ePal today. We carry a wide selection of marine electronics that any boater will find useful, and our free ground shipping policy on all orders to the lower 48 states can't be beat!

3 essential baits for bass fishing

Are you looking to catch some bass this spring? It's certainly the perfect time to hit the lake, as bass are typically emerging from their winter haunts to prepare for spawning. Spring is when they're hungriest, so if you have the right marine equipment and bait, you should begin to reel in some big catches in the next few weeks.

Not sure what kind of bait you should take with you on your trip? TackleGrab.com has some suggestions for baits that have been proven to be the most effective:

  • Crankbait: This is a favorite of new bass anglers as it's easy to use. Crankbaits are designed to dive to the bottom and then be reeled up. As they move vertically through the water they wiggle and catch the attention of bass. The only thing to be wary of is that, because they dive to the bottom, they can become snagged on plants and rocks, so make sure you know how deep the water is and avoid problems like this.
  • Jigs: One of the most versatile types of lures, jigs are much easier to user in places where the weeds have grown thick. The best colors are green and blue, as these are more easily spotted over long distances underwater.
  • Spinnerbait: Perhaps the most popular bass fishing option, these are commonly used because they are highly visible in the water. They don't look much like fish, but the spinning, sparkling colors are too much for the fish to resist.

Remember that if you're serious about bass fishing, one of the tools that will help you the most is a fishfinder. These devices, which you can purchase from ePal, give you in-depth information about the water column and help you locate the best schools of bass. Check out our online store today for more information!

How to repair a crack in your fiberglass hull: Part 2

Recently, we blogged about the preparatory steps that you need to take before you begin to mend a crack in your fiberglass boat's hull. This is a process that every boat owner with a fiberglass vessel should understand, as you don't want to be stuck out in the middle of the ocean with a breach that you can't fix. This would put you and your passengers at risk.

Once you've prepared the area that is cracked for repair, you'll need to begin to apply glass fabric in alternating layers between 1 1/2-ounce mat and 6-ounce cloth. In between each layer, you'll apply a coating of resin that will hold the materials together. The first layer should be placed on top of a thin application of Gelcoat, which helps to hold the subsequent layers in place.

Generally speaking, it's recommended that you apply one layer of cloth and mat for every 1/32 of an inch of hull thickness. In other words, if your hull is a half inch thick, you would want to apply 16 layers of fiberglass before putting on the finish.

BoatUS, a boating resource, suggests using polyester or vinylester resin when you are patching a hole that is above the water's surface. For cracks that are underwater, you should use epoxy instead.

Of course, it's always preferable to not find yourself in a position where you have to fix your hull at all, which means you'll want to do a good job of anticipating any underwater hazar​ds that might cause a breach. The best way to do this is to equip your boat with a marine transducer and other marine electronics that can give you surface and water column information in real time. For more information, check out the latest navigation products from ePal!

3 tips that will help you catch more largemouth bass

Are you hoping to have a successful largemouth bass season? Of course you are! As you probably know if you've already tried it, catching bass isn't always easy, but with a little know-how you should notice an uptick in the number of fish you catch the next time you head out to the lake!

Here are a few tips from Fishing Tips Depot to help improve your chances of catching some largemouth bass:

  • Consult with others who frequent the same lake: The best approach to fishing for bass can vary depending on the lake and region where you're located. Ask others who are familiar with your particular lake where and when they have had the best luck.
  • Fish in the early morning or late evening: Bass typically feed at dawn and dusk, so the best time to head out is usually an hour or so before the sun rises, or an hour before it sets. 
  • If you catch a bass, see what's in it's stomach: This may sound a bit gross, but it's a good tactic if you want to know what bass are eating at your lake. These fish will typically throw up whatever is in their stomach after they're caught, so take a look and see what their favorite foods are. This will be your best guide when choosing the right bait.

If you have a boat and you're looking for the best boat accessories that will help you navigate unfamiliar waters and fishing grounds, you should definitely consider purchasing a fishfinder from ePal. We carry the best brands, including Garmin and Raymarine, and you'll find that our prices are the most competitive on the market, with free shipping for all orders to the lower 48 states. For more information, check out our online store today!

This may be the season to try saltwater fishing!

Are you typically a fresh water fisher? For the vast majority of Americans, it's the most accessible kind of angling there is. Virtually every community has a fresh water pond that is accessible to the public. But if you want to access more diverse fisheries with a higher potential for big catches, it may be time to try out saltwater fishing.

If you've never done this before, Field & Stream Magazine has a few tips to keep in mind to make the experience more productive:

  • Keep a good set of marine charts and maps available on your trip. Having a chartplotter onboard that can let you know about the surrounding waterways is also helpful. Typically you'll get the best catches near channels and inlets, and charts are good for identifying and locating these areas.
  • Make sure your lures are bright, shiny and new, as these are the kind that fish like the best. If you use old, rusty looking lures, you'll have a much harder time getting the fishes' attention. Always rinse off and dry your lures before you put them back in your tackle box so that they don't develop any corrosion or stains.
  • Wash off your reel once you're done. Saltwater has the tendency to corrode and make fishing equipment harder to use, particularly if you're going to take it back to a freshwater lake sometime soon.

Anytime you're about to go on a new fishing expedition, it's a good idea to stock up on all the marine instruments you'll need to make your trip more enjoyable. At ePal, we have an enormous selection of fishing equipment and navigation technology that will help you find the best fisheries and get more out of your adventure, so stop on by our online store for the latest deals!

3 tips for avoiding boat collisions

One of the most disastrous things that can happen to anyone on a boat is a collision, particularly when it occurs many miles offshore. Such an incident can be crippling and result in an emergency situation that threatens the lives of all passengers. This is why it is critical for boat owners and operators to have marine electronics on board that can help them communicate with local marine authorities and request help from emergency personnel.

All boat owners should keep the following tips in mind when preparing for and dealing with boating collisions:

  • If you're on the same tack as another boat, the leeward vessel (the vessel that is downwind) has the right of way. The boat that is on the windward side (upwind) must yield.
  • Generally, the less powerful boat will always have right of way. Powered motorboats must give way to sailboats, and sailing vessels must give way to kayaks and other paddled watercraft.
  • Make sure there is a life vest for every single passenger. It seems like an elementary consideration, but so often boaters are careless about equipping their vessel with life jackets. It's also critical to instruct passengers in using this equipment, as you never know when you'll have someone on your boat who has never worn one before.

If you own a boat you should ensure that it has the communication and navigation equipment necessary to signal to other water craft. This will make your journeys safer so that you can enjoy your trips rather than having to worry about whether you might damage your vessel.

For the latest equipment and boat accessories, check out ePal's online store. We offer free shipping to the lower 48 states, as well as the kind of expertise and customer service that makes shopping easier!

A guide to choosing a boat dealer

Once you've decided that you'd like to purchase a new boat, you're faced with a number of other choices that can feel daunting. One of the most important is finding a boat dealer you can trust to provide you with honest advice, good customer service and timely responses to inquiries. Given that many boat dealers are selling the same models, the choice comes down to which one gives you the best experience.

Trade Only Today, a boating industry magazine, recently provided a guide for readers on how to choose the best boat dealer. Here are some of their best pointers:

  • Do they have a good reputation online? There are tons of sites like Yelp, Angie's List and the Better Business Bureau that you can use to find out if other customers were happy with their service. This is especially the case when it comes to companies that are selling large items like boats and cars.
  • Does the staff of the establishment seem happy to be there? If the salesmen and administrative employees seem content with their jobs and work hard to please you, then you've proba​bly found an establishment you can trust. A company that treats its workers well will almost certainly treat its customers with the same courteousness and respect.
  • How close is the dealer to where you'll be boating? This will be particularly useful given that, if something on the boat breaks, you'll want to bring it to their facility as quickly and easily as possible.
  • Is the facility clean? If the dealer takes care of their premises and makes sure that there are no messes, that everything is uncluttered and there are no physical hazards, then they clearly care about their customers' satisfaction and safety. Ask your dealer if they have received a Marine Five Star Dealer Certification (MFSDC), which indicates they adhere to the highest standards of service and safety.
  • Will the dealer allow you to speak with past customers? Referrals are a great way to find out if the company is a legit​imate dealer, or if they have a history of treating customers poorly. 

It's important to remember that shopping for a boat is like buying a car, house or any other large, valuable possession: It's an experience that will likely take some time, a lot of research, many phone calls and involves disappointment. You'll probably view several different watercraft before you find the right one for your needs. Approach the buying process carefully and ask lots of questions of your salesperson.

If you receive anything less than the best customer service, you owe it to yourself to find another dealer. Depending on the size of the boat you'll be purchasing, you're about to hand them a very large check, so it's important that they recognize that and work to earn your business.

Once you've purchased your boat, you'll want to make sure it is outfitted with the best marine equipment available. If you'd like to see what companies like Garmin, Raymarine and Lowrance have to offer, your best source for this marine equipment is ePal. We carry one of the largest selections of GPS systems, fishfinders, chartplotters, tranducers, radios and other gear that will make your boating trips safer, more relaxing and more fun. On top of having the best prices, we also offer free shipping to the lower 48 states, in addition to flat rate expedited options when you need your equipment more quickly. Browse our site today for the latest deals, and call us at (877) 245-8649 if you have any questions!

Rules for boating with kids off the coast of Florida

No matter how old the crew of your vessel is, you need to make sure safety is a top priority. But this is especially true when you invite your kids aboard. You may think they are capable of taking on many of the responsibilities of a seasoned sailor, but you could not only be putting them in significant harm when you tackle such an endeavor, you may also be breaking the law.

One of the most popular parts of the country for boating is Southwest Florida, where family boating adventures into the Gulf are by far the favorite pastimes for many families. In fact, some parents think that because their kids have been spending summers on board the family boat, these children are equipped to take the wheel. This is not the case, however, as Florida law stipulates that any individual under 26-years-old must have taken a boating safety course certified by the state and carry a picture ID. That means that your son or daughter who doesn't even have a license to operate a vehicle ion the road has no business operating a boat.

There are other important laws one must follow if they are voting in the Sunshine State when hitting the high seas. For instance, no child under the age of six can be on a vessel less than 26 feet in length unless they have a life jacket on. 

Other precautions aren't so much legally binding but instead rules of the sea any responsible boater must apply. For instance, never dive from a boat that is anchored in less than nine feet of water, even if it's a small child jumping ship. It would also be beneficial to equip your boat with a fishfinder, chartplotter and other boat accessories that not only map out your course above the waterline but also beneath your hull.